In my 30 years, I have lived in a lot of different places. But I spent the first 17 years of my life under one roof of a house that I absolutely loved. As we grew up, and days and years went by, my mom worked hard to constantly make our house the best home it could possibly be – pretty wallpaper, sentimental furnishings, warm paint colors, a family room addition. It was big and spacious, had gorgeous natural woodwork, a backyard fantasy land built just for us kids, and housed all my favorite childhood memories. Our house was a true labor of love.
I was 15 when my parents got divorced, and our house suddenly became a place of worry and uncertainty. My dad left, my older sister went to college, and suddenly the big house that was once so full of love, suddenly felt very empty and hollow. In the year that followed, our lives and lifestyle changed dramatically. My mom did everything in her power to keep our world familiar and safe, and through it all, I clung hard to the one thing that felt consistent to me – our house.
With Rebecca away at college, and Sarah still just a toddler, there was a new team running the house – me and mom. We were an unstoppable force together, and through those tough years we shared just as many laughs as we did tears. But after a year of struggling and working around the clock together, we faced the reality of what would inevitably need to happen. We had to sell our house.
Through a little soul searching, I have realized somewhat recently that being separated from my childhood home provoked a strong emotional reaction, causing a lot of mistrust and anxiety that has followed me into my adulthood. Only 17 at the time of our move, I clung to that house as if it was the last bit of “family” that I felt I had left. I can still vividly remember the day the papers were signed, sitting on the back porch crying so hard I could barely breathe.
The next house I would live in is the house that my mom still has today. It is the house where I learned to let go of the past, and redefined my understanding of love and of the word family. Looking back, I realize that ever since my first move, I have always had deep emotional connections to the places where I live.
When Casey and I left the first house we lived in together, I was so happy to be moving into our next (much nicer) home. But at the same time, I had a really hard time physically leaving the house for the last time. I stood in the dining room where Casey had proposed to me earlier that year, feeling like by leaving the house I was leaving that memory behind. Of course that wasn’t true, but it was hard to walk away from a moment that was so special to me.
Our second house in Cincinnati still holds a very special place in my heart. It was the kitchen where I taught myself to cook, and eventually where I decided to take the leap and go to culinary school. (I still miss that kitchen!)
That same house was our home on our wedding day, when I gathered with my best girlfriends, sisters, and mom – and put my wedding dress on in our upstairs bedroom.
I cried when we left that house too, sad to leave behind all the memories of wonderful times and personal growth had under that roof.
Our current house has been my favorite. It is where we picked out our first set of real grown up furniture piece by piece…
And where it still seems like yesterday that I stood by the side of the bed whispering to Casey in the dark, “wake up, I think I’m pregnant!”
But as much as I have loved the places I have lived, my hope is that when we leave our current house, I won’t cry and long for what I’m leaving behind, but instead treasure the memories and know that I am taking them with me.
And I will look forward to NEW firsts – the house where we will bring a baby home, the kitchen where I will learn to make baby food, and the couch that we will snuggle on together in all our new found free time!
For some reason in my 17 year old mind, losing my childhood home made me feel like the last piece of my family was being taken away from me. Many homes and states later, I have clung to that pain and feeling of loss with each and every move.
I finally came to this realization when I was dealing with intense crippling fear regarding our move to Seattle. What was I so afraid of? Why was I clinging to our current home so fiercely? And then memories of being 17, crying on my back porch, and feeling that first loss all came flooding back to me.
It took me until age 30 to finally understand that a house is really just a house. But a home is family, love, and memories – and that is something that, no matter the distance, you never leave behind.